This past weekend, four friends went up to Harrison Lake, up the East Harrison Forest Service Road, to go camping. There is something so natural and liberating with being outdoors and hanging out by a campfire. We went to a great campsite about 35km up the East Harrison FSR between the Hornet Creek FSR and Clear Creek FSR turnoffs. The campsite is right beside a bridge leading up to a logging area and right over a deep pool in Big Silver Creek. Big Silver Creek (aka Big Silver River….it’s pretty big!) is the second largest stream entering Harrison Lake (the largest is the Lillooet River). Little known fact but the logging camp at the mouth of the creek/river was once a thriving community named Silver River! When we went up to the hotsprings just after we got home from our cycling trip (see the blog entry here), the logging camp was quite empty and the authorities were grading the gravel roads. Now we know why. This time a few weeks later, there were active logging signs, we were sharing the now quite beautifully surfaced road with big logging trucks and the logging camp was filled with logs.
Big Silver Creek a popular site for white water kayakers and up the creek is the site of a large hydroelectric project.
When we got to the campsite, it was an absolute mess filled with garbage from irresponsible campers from the May Long Weekend. Simple rule: pack out what you pack in! They clearly just dumped everything on their dying campfire and left….which is how forest fires start. Fortunately for the forest but unfortunately for all campers after, a vast majority of the garbage didn’t burn. There were broken camping chairs, what seemed to be hundreds of beer and vodka spritzer cans and just disgusting food garbage. They failed so much at burning away their garbage that we found a roll of paper towel on the fire that, after taking off a couple layers, was completely useable….and turned out to be quite useful for us on the trip! It was a good thing that we left Ladner at 9am and go to the campsite after a lovely lunch at Five Guys in Chilliwack at around 2pm because we spent a couple hours cleaning the site. We gathered and crushed all the cans, filling two bags completely stuffed full of aluminum. Luckily, there was also a metal cylinder randomly at the site (previous to us had not been burned) that became known to us as “The Incinerator!” It was open on the bottom and top so we raised it up on a couple flat rocks to allow for airflow and then filled it to the brim with garbage. We poured a bit of gas then threw a burning stick from our fire into it and WOOOOSH!! It burned away all of the stinky gross garbage.
We spent the weekend jumping into the deep cold green glacier water of the creek and then running back to warm ourselves by the fire. We chopped a lot of wood. The bonus of camping around logging areas is that they always leave so much wood behind. Especially since Troutan has a chainsaw, we could go and saw off a part of a smallish tree that they left behind, chainsaw it into smaller rounds and then it was chopping time. Bryan seems to spend most of his camping time chopping wood and as weird as it sounds, I caught the chopping fever. By the second night, I was chopping rounds in half! It was wicked fun.
Troutan also had an awesome idea of making a sauna. He found an old tent in his storage when he moved into his new apartment and we cut out a piece of the floor to roll in hot rocks heated up by the fire. We would jump into the cold stream and then run into the hot sauna tent. The rocks had been heated up by building a fire right over them and baked for over an hour. By the time of the sauna, it was so hot that any water we poured onto them instantly sizzled into steam and then the rocks were immediately dry again. After spending quite a bit of time in the sauna tent, we jumped back into the cold water. I swore a long string of swear words to describe how cold the glacier water was but afterwards, I felt so alive and refreshed.
We found the old Dutch Oven buried in Bryan’s garage from his Scout camp days when he was a wee lil kid and we made campfire chili. We stuck the cast-iron pot right into the coals in the firering with the fire right beside it. The smoke from the fire flavoured the chili making it unique and oh so delicious!